Sunshine State Warms To More Giant Solar

The same company responsible for the giant 400-megawatt (MW) solar plant planned for Gadsden County, Fla., has another project (though, only half as large) lined up for development in the Sunshine State. National Solar Power said it has finalized an agreement with Hardee County to construct a 200-megawatt (MW) solar farm about 50 miles southeast of Tampa. The project will consist of ten 20-MW units, each requiring about 200 acres of land and costing $70 million.

The project will be designed, built and operated by Hensel Phelps Construction – the same firm that, incidentally, rebuilt the Pentagon after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. National Solar Power estimates the project will create 200 jobs during the five-year construction phase and up to 50 permanent jobs once fully operational. After securing permits, National Solar Power expects the first phase of the project to be online within seven months.

National Solar Power, Florida

image via National Solar Power

To finance the project, National Solar Power created its own venture capital fund – Green Infrastructure Partners. The fund is externally managed and advised by Solar Capital Management, a subsidiary of National Solar Power Partners. The company says it is currently negotiating with several large financial institutions and private equity investors to provide project financing. Progress Energy Florida has agreed to purchase at least some of the power from the project.

“Florida is the new frontier when it comes to solar farm development,” National Solar Power CEO James Scrivener said in a statement. “We are excited about the opportunity to establish a utility-scale solar farm in Hardee County and the creation of Green Infrastructure Partners. With its ample property available, easy access to the electric grid and nearby population centers, the Hardee County community is a prime location to put solar energy in the region’s power mix.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).